Exclusive Interview with KNZ of BVCCI HAYNES
KNZ’s unique and imaginative new project, BVCCI HAYNES, sees the drummer go solo as a vocalist. ROKKYUU met with him for the inside scoop on his thoughts on this transition and the low-down on BVCCI HAYNES’ second single, Squall.
69: This is your first interview with ROKKYUU Magazine so please introduce yourself along with something you’ve been into lately.
KNZ: I’m KNZ (KENZO) from BVCCI (Buchi) HAYNES. Something I’ve been into… What could it be? There’s not really anything I’ve been into lately. Although I’ve been reading more books than before.
69: What kind of books? Mystery novels…What?
KNZ: Nothing creative like that. More like I’ve started reading more autobiographies and stories about people’s experiences, or philosophy books, etc.
69: Getting down to it, I’d like to ask you about the band name… I know there are people wondering this, so how exactly do you pronounce it?
KNZ: It’s bu-tchi haynz. When I started a solo project, I wanted to give it a person’s name. The reason the U is displayed as a V is because, in terms of design, there was no U in ancient roman letters. So I purposely used that. Bu-tchi is “Butch,” but I wanted to make it more like a logo. I wanted people to wonder over it and try and figure out what it was. Actually, it originally came from the name of the hero, Butch Haynes, in a movie I like, and I thought it had a good ring to it.
69: What movie is that?
KNZ: It’s the name of a prisoner in the movie A Perfect World. While escaping, he ends up kidnapping this kid and while he’s running off with the kid, they become close. It’s such an unexpected way to meet, but through that, they build love and friendship. It really grabbed me when I saw it so long ago and I wanted to use that name someday, which is why I chose it.
69: On a different note, it seems that you like Final Fantasy. A couple of years ago, we did a special piece interviewing bands about Final Fantasy for the game’s 25th anniversary. We’d love to hear your thoughts on it, too.
KNZ: Maybe I like FF because I am of this generation, but I think that we have all grown up with it as a part of our roots since we were children. Among them, the ones I’ve played most are IV to VII. Those four are the ones I like best. Even then, VII is the one that I think changed something within me.
69: What do you like about VII?
KNZ: I love the world but also the game system itself, and also, so much more of the story was released than with others. It’s like you get to see “another side.” I played all of Crisis Core and I have the movie, too. I also played the shooting game Dirge of Cerberus with Vincent, and everything.
69: Naming the new single Squall didn’t have anything to do with Final Fantasy, did it?
KNZ: No, it’s not related! [Laughs]
69: Well then, could you tell us about your image change and the reason you reworked the spelling of your name from that of your previous band?
KNZ: I guess my name could really be anything in the end. Kenzo is Kenzo. I don’t think the change makes much difference. I just felt it was fine either way. There’s no deep reason behind the change, I just wanted a bit of a remodeling so I changed it.
69: How about the image change? Is there a reason you went in this direction?
KNZ: Is it really that different? [Laughs] My old band already had a set character to it when I joined, so I guess I just went with something I wanted to do, with an image I like. It’s basically just me, so I guess I went back to default and brought my real self to the surface. The truth is that this is the real me and my real image.
69: How about your change from drummer to vocalist?
KNZ: I don’t feel like anything has changed. It might be strange to say that it doesn’t feel like I’m a vocalist now but I’m just doing it because it’s necessary. Considering my history and my future, I felt that BVCCIHAYNES is a place where I need to stand at the center as the axis. That’s all there is to it.
69: Have you always enjoyed singing?
KNZ: I like singing, and I like the expression of it as well, but that’s the part that is difficult
69: Is there anything you’ve found particularly difficult in becoming a vocalist?
KNZ: Maybe. Honestly, I think what’s really difficult is not my own work but, rather, dealing with the support members around me. I don’t feel that singing is hard… and I’m playing the drums myself. It’s just difficult to use other people in creating what you want. It’s still difficult, even now.
69: As a vocalist, you’re in the spotlight. How do you feel about that?
KNZ: It’s a different sensation. I realized that the way people see you is quite different. Also, usually, I’m playing the drums so both of my hands are full, right? Now, I can have both hands free with the mic fixed in the stand, or if I’m holding it, then one hand is free. Since expressing each piece is difficult, I feel that I have my own method of expression.
69: Now I’d like to ask you about the new songs. First of all, “INORI~Salvation~” is a very atmospheric piece!
KNZ: I’ve always liked that kind of atmosphere. We talked a little about it earlier, but I’ve always loved the music of Final Fantasy, too. The same goes for classical music and hymns, and I love movie soundtracks, too. If I’m going to sing other than rock… If I’m going to express myself, then this is the world I want people to experience.
69: The songs in this single are all very different, right?
KNZ: They have different atmospheres.
69: Was that intentional?
KNZ: You could say that it’s more to do with this being the second installment. I want to make it so that there’s a link running through them all in the end, and since we’re still in the midst of it, the whole picture can’t be seen yet. I haven’t gotten that far yet, so I can’t really say, but the reason is that it all begins from there in my opinion.
69: Incidentally, what language is the vocal portion of “INORI~Salvation~” written in?
KNZ: The vocals are a made-up language. I just chose the words so that the final vowel portion sounded good.
69: It seemed to have an Indian or Middle Eastern feel to it.
KNZ: That comes from the atmosphere of the melody. The subtitle for this one is “Salvation.” I change the subtitle every time. I plan to keep making new ones from now on with the implication of praying for various different things.
69: What did you want to express by adding “Salvation” as the subtitle?
KNZ: Well, it comes at the beginning of the live, right? To others, and to myself, the reasoning can be anything. I just hope they can take it as a rescue from whatever they need rescuing from. As for the song itself, I hope that it can be taken to mean that, “Through salvation, one can be connected to something new.”
69: What’s the concept behind the title song, “Squall?”
KNZ: “Squall” is a song of only 1 minute and 53 seconds. The implication is that the squall of rain falls and clears up right away which ties in to the idea that there are always things that you are worried about right now, the things that are hard for you; you’re worried about them and suffering for them because of the present but, like a squall, they’re things that suddenly go away. It means that you should just put them aside and keep moving forward. Although it was all in English, so that was hard (to get across). [Laughs]
69: That’s right. It is all in English, isn’t it?
KNZ: I believe that it doesn’t make a difference whether it’s in Japanese or English but there is also the inner world of the song to consider and the main reason is that, well, in such a short song, the space for lyrics is limited. In that case, two to three times more nuance can be put into the words in English (than in Japanese).
69: That’s interesting. After all, in writing, Japanese is much more concise.
KNZ: I didn’t want it to be cut down too much and if I had put the contents of Squall into Japanese, it would have gotten much longer. Phrasing-wise, when I’m writing a song and the melody comes to me with English, then English is definitely the way to go. It’s a melody that suits English, after all.
69: We’re currently in the rainy season. Did you purposely time for the release to be made during this weather?
KNZ: It’s not like I planned the period of the release that long ago but the Japanese June rainy season just happened to overlap nicely.
69: Moving on to “Here I am,” there are children’s voices used in the song. What’s that all about?
KNZ: Originally, I had planned to do something different with the content of the lyrics but as I wrote it—it’s about a mobile phone—this way seemed to fit it better. There’s no implication to be found in the children’s voices, but musically, I wanted to put them in there.
69: This one is also in English. Why is that?
KNZ: It’s the same as in “Squall” but I felt that Japanese lyrics simply didn’t fit this kind of music. Since I began to write the melody, I did so with English, so it remained that way.
69: “Here I Am” does have a very American feel to it. Could you tell us about music that inspired you?
KNZ: I’ve always like Western music. I didn’t know much Japanese music until around the time I joined a band. I only listened to Western music. My previous band never did anything like this and even though what I like now and what I present now are quite different, I put this song in because I wanted to present a song like this while I had the chance.
69: Which artists had an influence on you?
KNZ: I used to love KISS.I loved 70s and 80s hard rock, and from there, I began to listen to the music of the period like KoЯn and LINKIN PARK; the music called heavy rock. Somewhere inside me I like that kind of thing.
69: Well then, onto the Japanese song, “Tsuioku no Ao.” This is the only one you wrote in Japanese. Why is that?
KNZ: Well, a movie might do, but when I first wrote this song, the scene I saw was that of a movie or animation of summer memories. Story-wise, it’s not about me but, rather, a fictional story. Both the sky and the sea are blue, right? There’s a person living close to the sea and the story is about their fictional memories. What the lyrics speak of is about a coastal story; the sky, the blue, the sea… It could be about anyone. There might be someone you haven’t met in a while, like an old neighborhood friend, and suddenly you wonder what they might be doing now. It’s a past memory so the remaining parts of it might be stronger or you might have re-written the memory. The song is about past memories.
69: There’s a strong image of summer in this release. What do you think is necessary in creating a summery image in music?
KNZ: It doesn’t just have to be summer. If we’re talking seasons, winter works just as well, but even though you can only imagine the scenery for a song up to a certain point, I like songs where you can imagine some kind of scenery. “INORI” is the same, as is “Tsuioku,” and other songs I wrote earlier; I personally like songs where you can say “It’s something like this” so there’s not much technique to it.
69: Speaking of imagery, the jacket design for Squall is very interesting with the graffiti and the cute frog image. What made you choose such imagery?
KNZ: In the beginning, when I was talking to the designer, I wanted to use street art for the jacket theme. There’s this art designer called Banksy who we both really like and that’s where the inspiration came from to make this jacket.
I also wanted to involve the frog and umbrella since it’s “Squall.” However, there’s a sense of black humor in that the frog is left out from under the umbrella. As for the deeper meaning, you’ll just have to decide that for yourselves. [Laughs]
69: You use a lot of English and your band name was inspired by a Western movie… Have you ever been overseas?
KNZ: I have. We went to America, Europe, and Asia on tour. There were some places I visited for the first time with my band. The audiences were totally different to those in Japan…
69: Where was that?
KNZ: The first places I visited were in Europe: Finland, Germany, France, and Spain, I think.
69: You felt a difference from Japan?
KNZ: Japanese people are prone to feeling embarrassed so we don’t let ourselves out the way that foreigners do. Yet in Europe and America, people are always making a lot of noise. The level of enthusiasm is totally different I think that releasing that passion is something that countries other than Japan are much better at.
69: Have you been to see a concert overseas before?
KNZ: It was a long time ago but once, when I went on holiday to America, I saw a bunch of indie bands at a festival.
69: How did that feel? Were you inspired at all by the different atmosphere from that of concerts in Japan?
KNZ: It was a huge venue so even though there were people who were really wild, there were also seats and people sitting. There was a lot going on there so it felt more like watching football or baseball.
69: Is there a country you would like to visit?
KNZ: My tattoos are a good indication but I like Egypt and India, and places like that. I’ve never been before so I’d like to go, even if it’s just by myself. In a group…? I like the ocean so I’d like to go to the Maldives. On vacation.
69: Before we wrap it up, could you introduce your current support members?
KNZ: My guitarist, Umi, is a member of vistlip. There’s something similar about us so I wanted to try doing something with him. That was how it started but I’m really glad that we were able to work together on this. I think there are portions that were able to take form because of him.
The other guitarist, Shinichiro Saito, is a member of 12012. He’s one of my juniors from middle school and he started visual kei recently. I’ve known him for a long time so I thought it would be great if he was able to learn something from this experience.
My Bassist Shingo has been in visual kei for a long time but now he’s a support member for one of Japan’s top stars, Eikichi Yazawa. He’s always been incredible at bass. As with Umi, there’s something about him that other bandmen don’t have which overlaps (with me). BVCCI HAYNES is something I am doing alone and for that reason, I want to do something that no-one else around can do.
As for the drummer, Kazami is from DaizyStripper. I think his drumming is similar to mine; it’s like we have the same kind of aura, and I thought it would be fun to work with him. I couldn’t think of anyone else. I’m sure there are plenty of others who are talented but I wanted to work with Kazami.
69: If you could work with absolutely anyone in the world, who would it be?
KNZ: If the players could be absolutely anybody, then I would want to be the drummer, not the vocalist. [Laughs] As for people I’d want to work with, well, I like KISS but actually, it would be the actor, Jared Leto. He’s in a band, Thirty Seconds to Mars and he’s both a guitarist and vocalist. His movies are fascinating—I really like them—and I love Thirty Seconds to Mars, too. So if I could choose anyone, then I wouldn’t be the one singing. [Laughs]
69: Finally, could you give a message to ROKKYUU’s readers?
KNZ: For those of you who knew me from before, and those who have just learned about me; I would be thrilled if you could experience an atmosphere, word view, and, of course, music, that only I can make. It would be wonderful, too, if, from there you might find an interest in Japan, or in visual kei, or if you are able to get something, anything more, out of that interest.
69: Thank you!
There are 27 photos in this visual kei exclusive.